Huffer celebrates 25 years of success

When Huffer founder Steve Dunstan checked into a Gore hotel on Wednesday night, the receptionist was wearing a Huffer puffer jacket.

“I walked in and thought it was cool, in Gore it’s great,” Dunstan said.

It’s not that surprising.

Huffer is celebrating 25 years in the New Zealand fashion industry this year, and it’s fair to say that these three brand-identifying dots are everywhere.

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“It’s really a milestone, even if it’s just a number,” he said.

“It depends on how you see it, we are still quite young. Part of our strategy with the brand right now is that over the 25 years, we’ve grown, and there have been ups and downs throughout.”

Huffer started in 1997.

“We were snowboarders wanting to look like skaters on the snow, so we made our own products to give identity to this upcoming emergence of the new sport of snowboarding.”

Steve Dunstan, the founder of Huffer.  The brand is celebrating its 25th anniversary in the fashion industry this year.

Provided / Stuff

Steve Dunstan, the founder of Huffer. The brand is celebrating its 25th anniversary in the fashion industry this year.

The vision was simple: to create functional clothing that looks as good on the snow as it does on the streets.

And to celebrate 25 years in an industry that many don’t survive, Dunstan has returned to its roots, creating a capsule collection inspired by the first seven-piece collection that launched the brand.

It still looks fresh on the slopes.

“We’re lucky because the 90s are all the rage right now,” he said.

“It’s a way of telling a story. We are very committed to a young market that was not born when we started. I’m excited about it, it fits the soul of the brand perfectly. ”

And although these children were not born, the Internet was still in its infancy.

Huffer founder Steve Dunstan tested the prototype Grundoa jacket in 1998.

Provided

Huffer founder Steve Dunstan tested the prototype Grundoa jacket in 1998.

“We used to get actual catalogs from other brands because there was no line, quickly go through them and throw them in the trash because we didn’t want to be directed by someone. another. The more you have it in front of you, the more likely you are to gravitate toward replication.”

From making technical, waterproof and breathable outerwear, Huffer has evolved into a full-fledged fashion brand with a street edge.

“We don’t call ourselves streetwear. We are a brand and we design clothes that allow people to express themselves.”

It’s the label that parents and children can wear at the same time and neither backs down.

“Within the Huffer brand, there is something for everyone. I love that we cross generations, we stay relevant, but it’s something that’s really difficult, but it’s exciting and it’s something you have to work on.

“I’ve seen some brands, like some of the old school surf brands, where you’ll see that heritage and they’ll cross the generations, but the dad will wear it because he wore it to barbecues and they’ll think that it’s cool.”

Huffer's debut at Air New Zealand Fashion Week in 2006.

Michael Ng

Huffer’s debut at Air New Zealand Fashion Week in 2006.

It hasn’t all been easy since the early days in the Huffer basement in downtown Auckland, where the label got its start.

“It’s been a bumpy road in 25 years, and we’ve learned a lot along the way.”

Their first down jacket was made in a factory known for its down comforters.

The down jackets and down jackets the brand is perhaps best known for (Dunstan is quick to define the difference – one is made from down and the down jacket is a recycled synthetic feather) defined their reason for making clothing – striving to design according to a philosophy of ‘Seek, Socialize and Survive’.

Fast forward to 2006, and Huffer debuted at Air New Zealand Fashion Week and was seen on the shelves of some of the best boutiques and stores across the United States.

American actor Orlando Bloom confesses his love for New Zealand with the iconic Huffer Luv T-shirt in 2003.

Provided / Stuff

American actor Orlando Bloom confesses his love for New Zealand with the iconic Huffer Luv T-shirt in 2003.

A year later, the global financial crisis hits.

“We were last in the pile, sitting here in Auckland saying ‘hey man, where’s our money?’. It really put a lot of pressure on the business.

Huffer recently made the “sad decision” to close its Bondi Beach store, but opened a new one in Melbourne. It now has 12 stores in New Zealand and employs 148 people.

So back to Gore, where Dunstan is on the jury for the MLT Hokonui Fashion Design Awards for the first time.

Two of the models in this year’s awards draped their Huffer down jackets over the backs of their chairs while they waited for fittings.

The awards are the oldest honors for amateur designers in the country, and Dunstan was joined by twenty-seven designers named Rachel Easting and Anjali Burnett, and Juliette Hogan, of Juliette Hogan, to review more than 250 entries.

Hokonui Fashion Design Awards judges, left to right, Rachael Easting, Anjali Burnett, Juliette Hogan and Steve Dunstan.

Kavinda Herath/Stuff

Hokonui Fashion Design Awards judges, left to right, Rachael Easting, Anjali Burnett, Juliette Hogan and Steve Dunstan.

Dunstan is excited about the entries he has seen in the schools sections.

“Seeing the high level of amazing stuff, there’s obviously talent out there. Even if these people don’t win, they obviously did for a reason, so follow who you are.

“You have to design and follow a brief, but I see there’s passion in there. You need to have a business leader if you want to make it a business, but at the same time you need that fire and passion.

“There is no doubt, in this room here, there are certainly people who will certainly make a career out of it, there is international potential.”

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